Varnish is a proxy server which can be used for HTTP caching. It can act as a reverse proxy for nginx. Here we are going to look how we can configure varnish as a reverse proxy for nginx web server.



  • Ubuntu 16.04
  • Root Privileges


Step 1: Installing nginx


We can install Nginx from the Ubuntu repository using the apt command

root@rootadminz:~# apt install nginx -y


After the installation is complete, start Nginx and enable it to launch every time at system boot using the systemctl commands below.

root@rootadminz:~#systemctl start nginx
root@rootadminz:~#systemctl enable nginx


Step 2: Configuring Nginx


We will configure nginx to run under non-standard HTTP port 8080. For this purpose, we need to edit virtual host files under ‘sites-available’ directory and change the ‘listen’ line value to 8080.

root@rootadminz:~#vi /etc/nginx/sites-available/default


listen 8080 default_rootadminz;

listen [::]:8080 default_rootadminz;



Now test the nginx rootadminz using the command “nginx -t” and restart the service.

root@rootadminz:~# nginx -t


nginx: the configuration file /etc/nginx/nginx.conf syntax is ok

nginx: configuration file /etc/nginx/nginx.conf test is successful


root@rootadminz:~#systemctl restart nginx


Step 3: Installing Varnish


Installing varnish from the Ubuntu repository using apt command. After installing start and enable it to launch at system boot.

apt install varnish -y


root@rootadminz:~#systemctl start varnish

root@rootadminz:~#systemctl enable varnish


Step 4 – Configuring Varnish as a Reverse Proxy for Nginx


Here we are using Varnish as a reverse proxy for the Nginx web server. So Varnish will be running on the HTTP port 80, and the Nginx web server on HTTP port 8080.


Go to the varnish configuration directory and edit the ‘default.vcl’ file.

root@rootadminz:~#vi /etc/varnish/default.vcl


On the backend line, define the configuration as below.

backend default {

.host = "";

.port = "8080";



After that edit the Varnish configuration file and on the ‘DAEMON_OPTS’ line, change the default port 6081 to HTTP port 80.

root@rootadminz:~#vi /etc/default/varnish


DAEMON_OPTS="-a :80 \

-T localhost:6082 \

-f /etc/varnish/default.vcl \

-S /etc/varnish/secret \

-s malloc,256m"



Now go to the systemd system directory and edit the varnish.service file.

vi /lib/systemd/system/varnish.service


Step 5: Reload the systemd configuration and restart varnish.


root@rootadminz:~#systemctl daemon-reload

root@rootadminz:~#systemctl restart varnish


Step 6 : Configuring UFW Firewall


In this step, we will activate the firewall and open new ports for SSH, HTTP, and HTTPS.

root@rootadminz:# ufw allow ssh

root@rootadminz:# ufw allow http

root@rootadminz:# ufw allow https


Step 7: Testing


Test varnish using the curl command, so we can see HTTP headers from the server.

root@rootadminz:~# curl -I
HTTP/1.1 200 OK
rootadminz: nginx/1.10.3 (Ubuntu)
Date: Mon, 12 Aug 2019 09:58:33 GMT
Content-Type: text/html
Last-Modified: Mon, 08 Aug 2019 10:36:49 GMT
ETag: W/"5c7cffc1-2a"
Vary: Accept-Encoding
X-Varnish: 5 3
Age: 7
Via: 1.1 varnish-v4
Accept-Ranges: bytes
Connection: keep-alive


Thank You for reading!!

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